A bitchy, tough-love self-help tome, He’s Just Not That Into You offers advice so blatantly obvious that the entire book can be condensed into a single sentence: If you have any doubt whatsoever about whether a guy really likes you, he doesn’t. Likewise erring on the side of common-sense excess, the movie version, directed by amiable hack Ken Kwapis (License to Wed, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), spends well over two hours demonstrating the various pathetic ways in which the lovelorn justify and rationalize others’ bad behavior. If your idea of a fun night out involves a constant urge to slap people upside the head, go crazy. Personally, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a stronger case made for involuntary euthanasia.
By far the most egregious offender in this film’s sprawling ensemble is Gigi (Goodwin), an excitable young woman prone to interpreting anything a man does as a clear sign of his abiding interest in her. Blown off by yet another feckless dude, she establishes a friendship—or could it perhaps be more?—with bartender Alex (Long), who functions as the book’s official mouthpiece, patiently explaining again and again that the men in Gigi’s life are not just playing hard-to-get but are, in fact, impossible to get. Meanwhile, Gigi’s friend Janine (Connelly) struggles to ignore signs that her husband (Bradley Cooper) is cheating on her, and their mutual friend Beth (Aniston) does her utmost to believe that her longtime live-in boyfriend (Affleck) truly loves her even though he steadfastly refuses to pop the question.
It’s painful enough that all of these characters are terminally clueless need-monsters with nothing to do except obsess about their love lives. But where did they get their tendency toward romantic self-delusion? From movies exactly like this one. For all its ostensible candor, and despite a couple of arc resolutions that vaguely qualify as unhappy, He’s Just Not That Into You ultimately reinforces the destructive fantasy that life’s harsh rules don’t apply to the pure of heart. If he’s not making a move, he’s not interested. (Unless you’re you. Then he secretly is.) If he’s not proposing, he doesn’t really love you. (Unless you’re you. Then he’s pricing rings and kneepads.) You deserve happiness, the movie insists, and so it will come. Good luck with that.